Okada: Dare Devil Or Dear Angel?

So much has been said about the ‘menace’ called okada. I have heard tales about how many people have been killed because the riders do not make good use of their brains when riding. They have been called roaches, ants and all sorts of degrading names. Okadas have been blamed for many accidents – either they instigated the process (and escape thereafter) or are literally entangled in the accident.

I know at least 80% of the stories; indeed I have been involved in one okada accident. I broke a toe, lost a few toe and finger nails and sustained bruises on my body. In spite of all this, I still diligently take bikes to and fro my destinations. My dad totally opposes it but what can he do? I feel for him. I think I am addicted. This addiction is not to the bike itself but to the idea that traffic cannot hold me down!

This is very important to me especially in the legendary Lagos traffic. I cannot bear to sit in traffic even if I am not rushing to someplace. I know many a time when I have been ‘saved’ by an okada. There have been days when I’d wake up 45minutes to resumption time at work and still make it there with 5 minutes to spare.

It is fascinating to know that my neighbour could be heading to Ikeja from Agege in his car and he leaves the house by 8.30am but I leave my house by 9.30am, take okada and overtake him on Oba Akran Avenue because he’s sitting in traffic. That feeling is marvelous, I tell you! At one point in my teenage years, I actually decided that I’d have to buy a bike and make it my major mode of transportation in these parts.

You know how it is when where you stand always seems like the right and the other person is standing in the wrong? That’s how it is sometimes when I’m in a car or on okada. When I’m on a bike, the car is always wrong – the car didn’t turn on the indicator before taking that turn, the car braked too hard and too sudden so the bike rammed into it from behind, the car believes it is bigger than the okada so the car has the right of way no matter what. But when I’m in a car, I see that there are some terrible okada riders out there! A trailer is turning into an intersection and an okada is coming in the opposite direction, whether na impatience abi na restlessness dey cause am, I no know but the okada feels it can pass through and so dives in. Sometimes, the rider and the passenger do not make it through but at other times, they actually do and that is amazing and fascinating to me.

As much as I agree that okadas can be a terrible nuisance, I must also recognise that there’s some good to it too. I have friends who do not see this good and will agree that okadas should be banished without a thought, but hey, everything has advantages and disadvantages.

So the question, my country people – what should we label the phenomenon called Okada? daredevil or dear angel?

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11 Responses to “Okada: Dare Devil Or Dear Angel?”

  1. Tolu

    Good piece; Its both – Blessing and Curse. At least till out transport problems are sorted in 9ja. Jah Bless.

    March 16th, 2012 Reply
  2. Yinka Mabs

    The major challenge is with the riders and not the bike itself.

    March 16th, 2012 Reply
  3. Temitopeoluwa Ogundeko

    Okada is a life saver. I remember when I forgot my receipt for my change of course form at home. Official closing hour is 4pm and as at 2.30 i was still at Akoka. I biked all the way to Berger and used a bus to get to Mowe (this wasted precious time) and i biked back to akoka and still got to school before 4pm. Okadas, as much as they are somtimes annoying (esp the ”abokizzz”) their importance cannot be over emphsized. Gud write up.

    March 16th, 2012 Reply
    • Pearl I. Ezeokeke (@PearlEze)

      Thank you for the comment and yes I totally relate to the scenario you painted here. I have many similar tales :)

      March 17th, 2012 Reply
      • Bankole

        I’ve been meaning to tell you, the post’s picture…I took it…guess where I was :)

        March 18th, 2012 Reply
        • Pearl

          Hahahaha! I can see the side mirror of the okada you were on! Hahahahaha! I’m absolutely tickled! :)

          March 18th, 2012 Reply
  4. Joachim

    Okada is ‘dear angel’ Abeg. Otherwise, many of us will waste so much more time in traffic. There are some parts of Lagos you shouldn’t even think of taking a car too.

    March 16th, 2012 Reply
  5. adaora onyema

    Well, I am of the opinion that okadas are both dare devils and dear angels; depending pon what side of the coin that has been tossed at you. Nice write up sis.

    March 17th, 2012 Reply
  6. Omoye

    Bikes come in helpful just thinking of traffic one would ask they not be banned- but safety first any chance of them being trained and taught safety awareness

    March 18th, 2012 Reply
  7. Oluwatosin Olubiyi

    Lagos traffic situation is quite complex and irritating, if Okada is scrapped, it will make transportation very difficult in this mega city. Please let me know if they’ll be scarpping Okada before June so I don’t return to Lagos.
    I seriously feel that road accidents can be reduced if the persons being conveyed by the Okada can insist on safety, then it will reduce accidents in the city.

    March 19th, 2012 Reply
  8. Biola

    I can’t say they’re angels or dear to me personally; Okadas are a child of necessity particularly in overcoming the Lagos traffic challenge. I do see most of the riders as daredevils, & those who use them (without helmets) as great risk takers. They’re a menace to car users, pedestrians, street hawkers & even to each other. They disobey traffic lights & expect you to accord them some respect & consideration on the road without reciprocating. I don’t support the ban cos they are useful in that they are fast & beat traffic, but to me that’s as far as it goes. Banning them outrightly would make a tough life even tougher for those who sustain themselves & their families through this avenue. Perhaps government can legislate that they stay off highways & expressways & keep to the inner roads & back streets, but then again, look at what happened with the rules about helmets & carrying pregnant women etc. In the long run, okadas have no place in a well developed society with proper & dignified transportation systems in place which safeguard the lives of citizens.

    March 19th, 2012 Reply

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